Home > Poetry > Sleeping Giant
Published: Fri Oct 15 2004
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Sleeping Giant

Off the coast of Ireland an island
sleeps in the shape of a man.

To the ones who first saw him,
from a cliff edge or boat rail,

he must have come out of the mist
like a newly fallen god,

a drowned giant, his body gone
over to forest, his hair tumbling

into wave-break, hands tucked,
circled by birds. An island,

but also a man, a recognizable god.
Why do we look for ourselves

everywhere, mapping distance
between the heart and the wild?

Just on the edge of perception something
thrashes, screams, becomes a bird

crossing your line of sight. Always,
this fluency: a world dangling within

a world, another unbearable place
to inhabit. Always, lines arranging

the shape as it rises. Grief: wind in
a white field, the hand’s

slow opening. What is time
but loss and gain,

the runner stumbling into the ribbon?
I, too, have done it—

given love a skin, a pair of arms,
offered it a bed to burn in.

It is the consequence of despair,
of love’s strange face, any wild thing:

we trace it down into something not new,
but known, something that sleeps.

See what's inside AGNI 60

Eve Jones has published in journals including AGNI, Hotel Amerika, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, and Poet Lore. Her first book of poetry, Bird in the Machine, was published by Turning Point Press in 2010. (updated 7/2010)

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